CAIRO (Christian Examiner) – The brutal beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians by jihadists was meant to strike terror in the hearts of Christians and Muslims alike. Instead the brutality has inspired an outreach resulting in the distribution of more than 1.6 million pieces of literature -- in just three weeks -- offering Bible verses of comfort and presenting a stark contrast between the Islamic extremists and the Christians who died for their faith.
The campaign is the initiative of the Bible Society of Egypt and, according to its General Secretary Ramez Atallah, it is "by far the most widely distributed Christian leaflet in Egypt's history."
"To bring comfort to a mourning nation, we at the Bible Society produced more than a million copies of a leaflet called 'Two Rows by the Sea,'" Atallah wrote on the United Bible Societies' website. "It contains a collection of Scripture passages about faith in adversity and God's enduring love. It also includes a poem, from which the leaflet takes its name, written by medical doctor who has a gift for writing poetry."
In a press statement, Atallah said the BSOE wanted to provide something that would comfort the grieving.
"People are in despair and have so many questions about why those young men were killed," he said. "And while there are no easy answers, the Bible reminds us that there will be times of trial but that God's love for us is everlasting.
"1 Peter 4:12, for instance, says, 'Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering.' It goes onto say in verse 14, 'If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you,'" he added.
Atallah also said the killing of the young men has united Christians and Muslims in the troubled country.
"ISIS hoped that the killing would foment sectarian strife in Egypt between Christians and Muslims, but it has had the opposite effect," he contrasted. "Christians have responded by sorrowfully calling out to God, and Muslims have shown love and care towards them."
Two Rows by the Sea
Two rows of men walked the shore of the sea,
On a day when the world's tears would run free.
One a row of assassins, who thought they did right,
The other of innocents, true sons of the light.
One holding knives in hands held high,
The other with hands empty, defenseless and tied.
One row of slits to conceal glaring-dead eyes,
The other with living eyes raised to the skies.
One row stood steady, pall-bearers of death,
The other knelt ready, welcoming heaven's breath.
One row spewed wretched, contemptible threats,
The other spread God-given peace and rest.
A Question... Who fears the other?
The row in orange, watching paradise open?
Or the row in black, with minds evil and broken?